REading FOreign LITerature

Britain in 18th-19th Centuries_

The 18th century

One of the best traditions in Russia was investing in culture by those, whose activity was in some other field. Pavel Tretyakov and his brother Sergei were Russian merchants. They had some factories and were successful in their trade. The love for art began growing in the brothers since the very childhood. Being a well-to-do merchant, Tretyakov decided to found a national gallery for Russian people. It was in 1860.

For the first time, it was the king's ministers who were the real policy and decision-makers. Power now belonged to the groups from which the ministers came, and their supporters in Parliament. These ministers ruled over a country which had become wealthy through trade. This wealth, or "capital", made possible both agricultural and an industrial revolution which made Britain the most advanced economy in the world.

However, there was an enormous price to pay, because while a few people became richer, many others lost their land, their homes and their way of life. Families were driven off the land in another period of enclosures. They became the working "proletariat" of the cities that made Britain's trade and industrial empire of the 19th century possible. The invention of machinery destroyed the old "cottage industries" and created factories. The development of industry led to the sudden growth of cities like Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool and other centres in the north Midlands. The British government was afraid of dangerous revolutionary ideas spreading from France to the discontented in Britain. Revolution was a possibility.

By the early 18th century simple machines had already been invented for basic jobs. This was to become an important part of the industrial revolution. Use of coal for changing iron ore into good quality iron or steel was perfected, and this made Britain the leading iron producer in Europe. Increased iron production made it possible to manufacture new machinery for other industries.

The 19th century

Britain in the 19th century was at its most powerful and self-confident state. After the industrial revolution of the 19th century Britain was the "workshop" of the world.

By the end of the century, Britain's empire was political rather than commercial. Britain used this empire to control large areas of the world. The empire gave the British a feeling of their own importance which was difficult to forget when Britain lost its power in the 20th century. This belief of the British in their own importance was at its height in the middle of the 19th century, among the middle class.

The rapid growth of the middle class was part of the enormous rise in the population.

Britain enjoyed a strong place in Europe councils after the defeat of Napoleon. Its strength was in industry and trade and the navy which protected this trade. After 1815 the British government did not only try to develop its trading stations. Its policy now was to control world traffic and world markets to Britain's advantage. Britain's main anxiety in its foreign policy was that Russia would try to expand southwards, by taking over the Slavic parts of Turkey's Balkan possessions, and might reach the Mediterranean. For most of the century, therefore, Britain did its best to support Turkey against Russian expansion.

The concerns in Europe and the protection of trade routes in the rest of the world guided Britain's foreign policy for a hundred years. But new time of world's redevision came.

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